Titanic failure… or success

Whew… 7 courses, 10 guests, so many hours… I must say it went off better than I anticipated. Most importantly, I think everyone had a wonderful and memorable evening. After a very tough 2014, I realized it is “later than you think” and I’m trying to realize each day’s blessings and create memories with family and friends. A fine example… my friend (lizard friend) Eddie IV, one day you are king of the flower pot… catching moths and bugs every night by the breakfast nook window and growing back your tail…that some awful dog named Beau removed, and the next day your friends (me) are lamenting your demise due to the attack by the aforementioned BAD DOG… Beau. Eddie loved life!  Anyway… creating events and enjoying each day is so very important!

Back to the dinner

The Menu

First Course
Oysters a la Russe • canapes a’l’amiral

Second Course
Consomme Olga

Third Course
poached salmon with mousseline sauce

Fourth Course
filet mignon lili • potatoes anna • pea puree

Fifth Course
punch romaine

Sixth Course
asparagus salad with Dijon vinaigrette

Seventh Course
ice cream • chocolate dipped éclairs

My favorite course was the cold poached salmon with mousseline sauce. I usually eat my salmon hot off the grill or out of the oven. Poaching it in a court bouillon (lightly flavored white wine and vegetable stock) kept the delicate flavor and texture of the salmon. I used a Scottish Salmon from Norway as opposed to Alaskan Salmon. It was beautiful…as you will see. The mousseline sauce is a hollandaise with whipping cream added before serving. Another favorite course was the asparagus salad, also served cold with a vinagrette. I kept this course in the meal because my husband Jay loves asparagus. It was served after the beef filet. Blanching the asparagus and then chilling it kept all the great flavor.

I owe much of the success of this event to my son Jay. He worked alongside me all day on Saturday as my sous chef. I always tease him when he is in the kitchen, about how long it takes him to do tasks. He is a perfectionist and thinks recipes should be followed exactly… I don’t. He peeled vegetables, piped the pastry cream into the eclairs, researched the proper table setting and folded napkins, all in a short span of time!  He also helped me plate each course throughout the evening… and because he is so intrigued by facts and history, he now knows much more about the Titanic and the food on the Titanic than I do.

My husband Jay did a little research about the champagne served on the Titanic and we toasted the evening with  Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Champagne. Each of our couples brought a wine pairing for their assigned course and really outdid themselves. We sampled some wonderful wines that enhanced the meal.

It was definitely a night to remember! If you are considering serving the Titanic dinner… remember to enjoy all the preparations and focus the memories you are creating. Bon Appetit!

p.s. take lots of pictures… my biggest regret is forgetting to take pictures of each course. Next time :) To answer my own question, I would definitely say the evening was a success.

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A Meal of Titanic Proportions

On Saturday, April 18th… 103 years and 1 day after the RMS Titanic tragically sank after colliding with an iceberg on her maiden voyage destined for New York City, I am cooking a 7 course menu from the last meal served in the 1st Class Dining Room, for 10 people. This will be the inaugural meal for the new Sanderling Drive Dinner Party Group. On many, many occasions my husband Jay has requested this meal… My usual response is, “are you crazy”, “it would be too much work”, “NO”. When one of my neighbors mentioned starting this plan to share hosting a dinner with some of our neighbors, the Titanic meal came to mind and I offered to be the first hostess. So…today is Thursday, yesterday I cooked my beef stock for 7 hours and today I will be making the court bouillon to poach the salmon in along with a long list of other tasks to accomplish today. I LOVE cooking! This will be a daunting challenge for even a seasoned chef. It will not be a perfect meal because there are always things to improve on. I have scaled back the menu from 10 courses to 7…since I don’t have a sous chef and I would like to enjoy dining with my guests. Each couple attending is bring a wine to pair with their assigned course and a champagne toast will kick off the evening. If you would like to take on this task, no fear… there are lots of places to look online for assistance! The recipes are available along with suggestions on how to break down all the tasks into an organized, hopefully efficient plan. I’m depending heavily on this. You can look at http://downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/04/05/game-plan-for-hosting-a-1st-class-titanic-tribute-dinner/ , and I am also relying on a great blog: http://www.thedragonskitchen.com/2012/04/complete-first-class-titanic-menu.html and… I did get a used copy of “Last Dinner on the Titanic” it is a great resource for all things Titanic. It even has that timetable I mentioned, and most likely I am behind schedule. We will have period music playing and even though my home most definitely not super fancy… I am polishing my silverware and have put all 4 leaves into my dining table. We mailed out the boarding passes to our guests and cleaned some thing that only usually get attention during the holiday :).  I am hoping that after Saturday evening the only mention by my husband about the Titanic Last Dinner will be, “that was great”. One  good thing… I can finally use the lovely chef’s toque that my friend Suzanne bought me for Christmas!

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     more pictures and updates to follow.

Is This the Secret Sauce?

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Why yes… yes it is.

I always make a “secret sauce” with rack of lamb; sweet, savory and sometimes with a little heat and au jus. My husband always ask, “is this the secret sauce?” And of course it is… secret for the day, not the same as last time though. I’m not one to stick to a recipe. Cooking for me is a creative endeavor… just like painting. I look at the possible ingredients for the meal, find some inspiration in my pantry and fridge and go with it.

Rack of lamb looks a little intimidating… I finally bought it a few years back after enjoying it at a restaurant. I decided it was just red meat and I can cook most any other kind, so why not. Not much pre-cooking preparation is needed. I like to make a mix of freshly ground peppercorns and kosher salt, freshly minced rosemary and lemon zest… that’s it, add  enough olive oil to make a thin paste and slather the racks on both sides. Let them rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer.
My “special sauce” will remain secret… ha ha. seriously, it will. I will again say that I love sweet and savory, like garlic and shallots and red wine, honey…cherries mmmm. Make a sauce from the flavors you like and after you have cooked your racks of lamb either on a med/hot grill or in a 425 oven for about 25 minutes (if you have a convection option, use it) , let them rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then slice between the bones and add any jus or meat drippings to your sauce.

I usually make roasted potatoes with rosemary and pepper… tonight I used pink and wild black peppercorns :) I also made one of my favorites… garlic green beans.

Buy good quality ingredients, season with fresh herbs and good quality spices, and you will have good food!

next time… musts for your pantry!